III: Business Engagement in the UAE – Post-Trade Show Follow-up Tips

30 Oct, 2023 - UAE Life & Economy

You’ve recently attended/ participated in a trade show in the UAE, gathering numerous business cards, leads, and contacts. What are your next steps? How can UK SMEs and exporters effectively reconnect and differentiate themselves from the competition in the market? Here are some strategies to maximize the value of your trade show participation in the UAE and convert potential leads into loyal customers.

  • Timing is Everything!

First thing first… avoid delaying your follow-up with trade show contacts. It’s best to send a thank-you email within 24 hours of your initial meeting. This prompt response demonstrates your appreciation for their time, underscores your professionalism and dependability, and ensures you remain fresh in their memory, reducing the risk of being overlooked or forgotten.

In your email, it is a good practice to provide a brief reintroduction, highlighting your identity, your role, and the key topics covered at the trade show. Additionally, we recommend UK businesses to include a concise call to action, such as arranging a product demo, accessing a trial, or downloading valuable resources.

  • Messaging & Relevancy

One of the essential strategies for distinguishing your business from competitors is to maintain relevance in your communication with local contacts in the UAE. We strongly recommend to avoid sending generic or spam-like messages that fail to address their individual needs, goals, or challenges. Instead, best to customize your follow-up to align with their unique circumstances and illustrate how your products or services can address their issues or help them attain their desired results.

It’s important to leverage the insights gathered at the trade show, including their industry, position, pain points, and preferences, to personalise your messages. Lastly, it is essential to offer valuable content, such as case studies, testimonials, or tips, to showcase your expertise and establish your credibility.

  • Be Persistent and Don’t Give up!

Persist in your efforts with trade show contacts even if they don’t respond to your initial email. Gaining the attention and interest of local companies in the UAE may require multiple points of contact and follow-ups. It is crucial to always maintain respect and avoid being intrusive or bothersome. UK businesses can space out their follow-up attempts and diversify their communication channels, including phone calls, social media outreach, or direct mail. Always seek permission to continue the conversation and honour their requests to opt out.

  • WhatsApp & Communication Tools

Whilst we’d recommend following up on meetings with an email, particularly if there are product or company details & information to be shared, don’t be surprised if these go unanswered. It is considered normal, however, to follow up on WhatsApp messaging and it’s likely that you’ll find this to be a more productive medium to progress through.

  • Remember, Business Contacts Are Also Human Beings

As business in the UAE and wider Middle East is built on human interactions/ relationships, it is worthwhile to bear in mind that your trade show contacts are more than just potential leads. They are individuals seeking a personal and emotional connection, not just a business transaction. As such, your follow-up should exude friendliness, authenticity, and respect.

Address them by name, express gratitude, and let your true personality shine through. Steer clear of jargon, slang, or acronyms that could create confusion or distance. Finally, it is strongly recommended to strive to establish rapport and trust by identifying common interests, sharing anecdotes, or injecting some humour. Your goal is to make them feel appreciated and valued, not merely another entry in your contact list.


For UK SMEs and exporters who have recently attending a trade show and looking to successfully do business in the UAE, it’s imperative to remember that effective follow-up is a combination of persistence, patience, and personalization. Building strong business relationships takes time, so approach each interaction with a long-term perspective and a focus on mutual benefit.